Kenya commemorates World Kiswahili Language Day 2022
TagsKiswahiliWorld Kiswahili Language Day
Kenya organised procession matches Thursday as part of celebrations to commemorate the World Kiswahili Language Day 2022.
The National Steering Committee of the World Kiswahili Language Day 2022, headed by the Tourism and Wildlife Cabinet Secretary Najib Balala hosted the match from 10 AM at KICC to create awareness of Kiswahili being the first officially recognized African Language by UNESCO. Later at 4:00 PM the Cabinet Secretary will host an event to celebrate World Kiswahili Day at the National Museums of Kenya.
Kiswahili is an official language in Kenya and is widely used across the country. The Kenyan National Anthem is also sang Kiswahili as well as the English language which is the other official Kenyan language.
Spoken by 200 million people across Africa and the Middle East, it creates common ground between communities and between countries everyday.
Across the border, hundreds of Kiswahili speakers from across Africa gathered in Zanzibar for the celebration of World Kiswahili Language Day.
The occasion brings together Kiswahili language practitioners from around the world including teachers, students and journalists.
The celebrations are organized by the East African Kiswahili Commission, an institution under the auspices of the East African Community (East African Community).
The celebration of the Swahili language with the motto: Kiswahili for Peace, Prosperity and Regional Integration stems from the decision of the 41st Session of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) held on November 5, 2021 which gave Kiswahili priority by approving applications for World Kiswahili Day.
As a result of this decision, World Kiswahili Day will be celebrated on July 7 every year.
The importance of Zanzibar being given the first opportunity to organize the Kiswahili celebrations is in view of the fact that Zanzibar is the headquarters of the Kiswahili East African Commission (KAKAMA) an institution under the East African Community that promotes and co-ordinates the development of Kiswahili i.e. its Zanzibar headquarters.
Speaking at the meeting, the Deputy Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Information, Youth, Culture and Sports, Zanzibar, Hamis Said on behalf of Minister Tabla Manlid Mwita said, “Kiswahili should be used as a commodity to be sold and to be productive. A huge investment in training our language professionals to become proficient in interpreting, translating and preparing various publications in Kiswahili. “
The Deputy Secretary-General said there was a great need to invest heavily in training our linguists to have the skills and competencies required in providing teaching, interpreting, translation and preparation of various publications in Kiswahili.
Said called on East African university scholars to place more emphasis on investing in the development and development of the Kiswahili language as well as in conducting various language studies.
The Deputy Secretary General of the East African Community, Engineer Steven Mlote noted that it is the responsibility of our East African universities to place significant emphasis on investing in the development and development of the Kiswahili language as well as in conducting various language studies.
“The designation of Kiswahili as a widely used language as well as the official language of the East African Community has provided the right environment for the development of Kiswahili regionally and internationally. Kiswahili now has great potential and its status is improving,” said Engineer Mlote.
Meanwhile, the Ugandan cabinet approved the implementation of the 21st EAC Summit directive in Uganda to adopt Kiswahili as an official language of the community.
The cabinet also recommended that the teaching of Kiswahili in primary and secondary be made compulsory.
Kiswahili, which takes around 40pc of its vocabulary directly from Arabic, was initially spread by Arab traders along East Africa’s coast. There are an enormous number of Arabic loanwords in the language, including the word swahili, from Arabic sawāḥilī (a plural adjectival form of an Arabic word meaning “of the coast”).
The language dates from the contacts of Arabian traders with the inhabitants of the east coast of Africa over many centuries. Under Arab influence, Swahili originated as a lingua franca used by several closely related Bantu-speaking tribal groups.
It was then formalised under the German and British colonial regimes in the region in the late 19th and early 20th Centuries, as a language of administration and education.
Other than Arabic, Swahili has been influenced and taken some words from English, for example: polisi for police, televisheni for television, hoteli for hotel among others.
There are about 15 main Swahili dialects, as well as several pidgin forms in use. The three most important dialects are kiUnguja (or Kiunguja), spoken on Zanzibar and in the mainland areas of Tanzania; kiMvita (or Kimvita), spoken in Mombasa and other areas of Kenya; and kiAmu (or Kiamu), spoken on the island of Lamu and adjoining parts of the coast. Standard Swahili is based on the kiUnguja dialect.
Kiswahili is one of the most widely used languages of the African family, and the most widely spoken in sub-Saharan Africa.
It is among the 10 most widely spoken languages in the world, with more than 200 million speakers.
It is one of the lingua francain many countries within East, Central and Southern Africa as well as in the Middle East and is also taught across major universities and colleges globally.
Kiswahili language is one of the official languages of the African Union (AU), Southern African Development Community (SADC) and East African Community (EAC).
It is therefore, an indispensable tool in achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals 2030 and in facilitating regional integration particularly in the implementation of the African Continental Free Trade Agreement (ACFTA).
In the 1950s the United Nations established the Kiswahili language unit of United Nations Radio, and today Kiswahili is the only African language within the Directorate of the Global Communications at the United Nations.
According to UNESCO, multilingualism, which is a core value of the United Nations, is an essential factor in harmonious communication between peoples, as it promotes unity in diversity and international understanding, tolerance and dialogue.
The United Nations General Assembly, through its resolution 71/328 of 11 September 2017, on multilingualism, welcomed implementation of a day dedicated to each of its official languages in order to inform and raise awareness of their history, culture and use, and encouraged the Secretary-General and institutions such as UNESCO to consider extending this important initiative to other non-official languages spoken throughout the world.
UN says, linguistic diversity and multilingualism are domains of strategic importance that UNESCO, promotes in all fields of its mandate, through an interdisciplinary approach involving all programme sectors.
There is a growing awareness that languages play a vital role in development, not only in ensuring cultural diversity and intercultural dialogue, but also in attaining quality education for all and strengthening cooperation, in building inclusive knowledge societies, in preserving cultural heritage, and in mobilizing political will for applying the benefits of science and technology to sustainable development.
The 39th SADC Summit of Heads of State and Government held in Dar es Salaam, United Republic of Tanzania in August 2019, approved Kiswahili as the fourth SADC official working language, in recognition of its contribution in peace-building and liberation struggles of Southern Africa and Africa in general.
It is proposed that 7 July, which was the day in 1954 that Tanganyika African National Union (TANU) under the late Mwalimu Julius Kambarage Nyerere, First President of Tanzania, adopted Kiswahili as a unifying language for independence struggles, to be proclaimed a World Kiswahili Language Day at the United Nations.
Indeed, former President of Kenya, the late Mzee Jomo Kenyatta, also used Kiswahili language through the use of the popular “Harambee” slogan in mobilizing the people of Kenya in the struggle against colonialism.
In addition, on 7 July 2000, the East African Community (EAC) was re-established to rekindle the spirit of cooperation and integration among the East African people of the United Republic of Tanzania, Kenya and Uganda where Kiswahili language is widely spoken. Rwanda, Burundi and South Sudan and DRC Congo later joined and are now members.
Also read Makuzi ya Lugha ya Kiswahili - KBC Radio Taifa